Since we’re deep in the midst of summer vacation and hopefully none of the kids that you know are stuck in summer school, everyone is free to explore and run and, most importantly, not have to worry about getting up early and going to school. This break brings a conundrum to light as both parents and teachers begin to worry about the summer slide, also known as the time when kids start forgetting the important things they learned in the school year while they are on summer vacation.
How do we, as educators, parents, librarians, babysitters, etc, combat this? By making learning fun. Sure, we could bring home big tomes from the library and tell our kids that they have to read a certain set of pages before they can go outside and play, but the resulting struggle will instead leave everyone frustrated and angry and wishing they had something to bash their heads against. Let me help you avoid the agony and present you with some exciting and less injurious options. Let’s focus today’s blog post on history and alternative methods of learning, shall we? Read on!
I don’t know about you, but my difficulties in remembering things in school, and especially over summer vacation, always revolved around history. Blurgh. Textbooks made me fall asleep, I was always mixing dates around in my head, and THEN I discovered Hip-Hop U.S. History: The New and Innovative Approach to Learning American History. (I had found other similar works, not by the same authors, ranging from mixing poetry and music to math and music, but this, by far, was my favorite.) Blake Harrison and Alex Rappaport created Flocabulary, a website for teachers and school districts to find ways to teach anything ranging from social studies to languages arts to math and science to kids of all ages, but I particularly enjoyed this book. Number 1 reason: It has a CD of all the songs inside of it AND has an actual list of the lyrics! Each song has its own dedicated chapter with the lyrics broken down and explained in better detail. Be still your heart if you think this book is still boring. It’s not! Pictures are also added with quotations from that time period, perspectives pieces, and little biographies of the important people. You learn without actually realizing you’re learning! (And you’ll also have a few catchy songs stuck in your head to help you remember those pesky dates and important historical details!)
Let me share with you my most delightful learning find. This is the Crash Course YouTube channel, put together by none other that John Green, his lovely brother Hank, and two of their friends, Phil Plait and Craig Benzine. If these names sound familiar, yay! If not, let me introduce you to John Green, a writer of young adult books with works such as The Fault in Our Stars, An Abundance of Katherines, Paper Towns, Looking for Alaska, and Will Grayson, Will Grayson. He and his brother, Hank Green, also have another YouTube channel called Vlogbrothers, where they send videos to each other, but these are far less about learning, so let’s focus on Crash Course. Here you will find videos on literature, ecology, biology, world history, US history, chemistry, and psychology, and many more. I got hooked on the literature ones, where John discusses anything from authors to books to poetry and adds his own unique spin. Each video is animated and punch filled with learning and facts and humor and keeps you on the edge of your seat wanting to learn more. I highly recommend you check them out for yourself and let me know what you think in the comments below.
This blog post gives you a glimmer of some of the things I’ve found that have helped with my own learning. I’ve got more ideas rolling around in my head, so keep checking back. If you’re looking for different ways to engage the kids you know or are maybe curious for yourself about new ways to learn old things, contact us at the library and we’d be glad to help you!